Eyes on the Future: Digital Transformation and Cloud Computing Open Enormous Business Opportunities

Dan Hurst, Chief Information Technology Officer, Kodak Alaris
239
373
77

Kodak Alaris was formed nearly four years ago as a spin-off from photo imaging giant Eastman Kodak Company (EKC). The Kodak brand is used under perpetual licence from Eastman Kodak Company, and Kodak Alaris is a completely independent company, not a division of Eastman Kodak. We have retained much of the manufacturing and overall business expertise amassed over decades of conducting business worldwide. Our heritage in imaging science forms the basis of the expertise we demonstrate today, from our award-winning range of document scanners and information management solutions, to our photo retail business, to our consumer and professional photographic products. We exist to take the complexity out of capturing and sharing images and information.

To compete in today’s digital economy, and to offer the world class products and services our customers demand, we knew we had to offer a broader, more extensible product set. The world is changing rapidly, and the firms that keep pace with these changes will win in the marketplace. For us, this means adopting a lean, start-up approach to accelerate innovation. It’s about delivering new offerings rapidly, scaling up and down quickly, and most of all, building a cloud-first software solutions portfolio designed to support our customers on the path to digital transformation.

Building on our heritage of manufacturing award-winning document scanners and a fleet of Kodak Picture Kiosks (more than 100,000 are currently in retail locations, worldwide), we have enhanced our offerings by developing software solutions to extend these hardware platforms, all wrapped around rapid product evolution and responsive service.

Within our information management division, for example, we’ve evolved from being image capture specialists to becoming information management solution providers. Our hardware and software enable businesses to extract information from captured documents, and to integrate it into business processes, providing them with valuable data they can use to drive business growth.

  ‚ÄčCloud deployment of M2M and IoT technologies can create a great number of opportunities to delight customers with really useful tools in the shape of products and services  

We are extending the value of our products by developing open APIs, building an ecosystem and working with Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and System Integrators (SIs), to extend the functionality of our portfolio. Together, we are developing software that enhances these platforms, and provides a complete solution to the customer.

The ability to integrate cloud-based software solutions into our distributed hardware platforms has created new vistas for innovation, through the developing fields for Machine to Machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT).

Our use of cloud technologies means the need for DevOps to get involved with systems management has rapidly declined, which frees up products and services leaders to tackle the challenge of ecosystems management. To illustrate ecosystem development from our own experience, we have built a host of products around our Picture Kiosks. Through a smartphone app, images can be uploaded over the internet and returned as individual prints, collated into a book, or printed on specialty items.

This is the basic service, but adding the ability for people to privately share their images means an ecosystem can be built. Pictures taken at memorable events, such as weddings, birthday celebrations or group holidays, can be offered to attendees and they can create their own personal mementos of the big event instantly. This is much quicker and easier than the old way of physically getting together to look at pictures and then having to make reprints for each attendee.

This approach is also transforming business processes and simplifying and improving the way people work. We are using scanners, cameras, email, social media platforms, phones, kiosks, and biometric devices as on-ramp devices to deliver content to intelligent document management systems and higher value business processes and services, such as ERP and CRM systems. The software supplied to achieve this can be instantly upgraded and configured remotely; hardware issues can also be remotely diagnosed and, in many cases, fixed.

The key is to look for opportunities for innovation and ways to encourage ecosystems to develop so that everyone buys in to the changes. Innovation is neither the preserve of a lone company visionary nor for a dedicated brainstorming group. It should be open to everyone involved to voice their ideas based on their daily experiences and insight. Only in this way will innovations emerge that provide value that transcends existing experiences.

Obviously, there needs to be a panel of experts to evaluate the desirability and feasibility of each suggestion. At Kodak Alaris we have an Innovation and New Markets team whose charter is to establish a broad innovation process and encourage necessary culture changes to empower employees to identify and develop opportunities to constantly improve our ecosystem of products and services.

There is plenty of room to incorporate the tremendous amount of innovation required to keep us at the top of our game, and the agility and dynamic scalability of our cloud infrastructure enables innovation to occur at an accelerated pace and in a cost-effective way. By building-in monitoring and analytics, we can also gain a better understanding of customer behavior, which can aid the constantly flowing innovation stream.

Cloud economics of the platform-as-a-service (PaaS) model means we only pay for what we use and further cost benefits will be realized through the introduction of micro services. From the customer perspective, they benefit from the use of Global Traffic Management (GTM) which offers better performance and lower latency from a datacenter nearer to their operations centres. In addition, IoT features for feedback and control brings in data that previously cost a lot in time and effort to amass. It can also open new doors, because the data can be viewed across a range of disparate environments for hardware, software and services combinations, which can lead to new thinking and the development of previously undreamt of combinations of products and services.

Based on our experience, cloud deployment of M2M and IoT technologies can create a great number of opportunities to delight customers with really useful tools in the shape of products and services. As time passes and new solutions emerge through the innovation process, they can be rolled out quickly, to ascertain their real-world value and sort the real ecosystem blockbusters from the less popular services, without having to invest a fortune.